The U.S. commander in Afghanistan (general David Petraeus) caused quite a commotion recently when he chewed out a room full of Afghan government officials, including members of the presidential staff, for denouncing another instance of the “dead goat scam” as an effort to extort cash from U.S. forces, or halt operations against the Taliban. The Afghan officials were complaining that Afghan villagers claimed a recent battle had resulted in Afghan women and children being killed and wounded by U.S. forces. But the American forces had ample proof that no such injuries occurred. Patraeus had seen such claims fall apart many times before, and knew it was just another example of the corruption that contributed so much to Afghanistan’s woes. What got the Afghan officials worked up this time was the accusation (by Petraeus) that the local civilians had injured their own children to gain more cash compensation for injuries caused by NATO troops. Although Petraeus did not mention it, the burns may have been the result of a common form of punishment in rural Afghanistan, putting the hand of an unruly child in boiling water. Foreign medical teams often encounter this kind of injury, and other types of savage punishments, and sometimes the parents casually admitted the cause. It was, after all, part of the culture.